Reconsider proposed tariffs, show consumer respect

Utility service providers in the country yesterday presented this year’s tariff proposals ranging from 37 per cent to 334 per cent to the Public Utilities Regulatory Commission (PURC) in Accrafor approval.

The Ghana Water Company Limited (GWCL) leads with a tariff proposal of 334 per cent for 2022.

For power, the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) is asking for 148 per cent increment, the Northern Electricity Distribution Company (NEDCo) 113 per cent and the Ghana Grid Company Limited (GRIDCo) 48 per cent while the Volta River Authority (VRA) is seeking 37 per cent increment.

The proposals were presented at a stakeholder consultative meeting for the Multi-Year Major Tariff Review (2022-2027) held by the PURC attended by policy think tanks, academia, civil society organisations (CSOs) and the media.

The ECG is reported on other platforms as appealing to PURC to approve its proposals and that in the subsequent years, average increase would be 7.6 per cent.

According to the ECG, its current charges are those approved by the PURC for the regulatory period 2019-2020 and that the continued application of the ‘expired charges’ creates gaps between them and the actual cost of operations.

Similarly, the GWCL says over the years, the approved tariffs have not helped in full cost recovery, resulting in its inability to raise enough revenue to finance the much-needed capital investment projects, with a consequent unsatisfactory level of service.

It is obvious that the other companies too have good reasons for calling for increment in their tariffs.

The PURC has appealed to the Ghanaian public to be patient as the process of increasing tariffs had just begun with proposals awaiting approval.

It must be said that in spite of their good reasons, the proposed tariffs are bigger than anyone could have imagined.

And while the public is expressing their frustration, some representatives of the utility service providers are in the media daring the public or consumers that if they refuse to pay the new tariffs, they should expect dumsor and erratic water supply.

Is this blackmail necessary at this point and is it even necessary at all?

This attitude smacks of disregard for the PURC, which is their regulatory body, because if you present proposals and do not wait for approval but go round announcing your entrenched position sort of, it means you would not agree with the process.

Already, the PURC says it is yet to analyse a number of factors, including targets set by it for system and commercial losses, as well as benchmarks and consultative meetings to help inform the final outcome.

It is unfortunate that there are no alternative sources of power that can help the people carry out their socio-economic and domestic activities comfortably, otherwise consumers would one day call the bluff of the energy providers.

Everyone in the country is alive to the ever-rising prices of goods and services and so are not surprised that the utility service would propose increments in their charges.

However, their current attitude portrays insensitivity to the plight of consumers.

Since the service providers expect consumers to come to them as their customers, they should show them some respect, not forgetting that the customer is King or Queen.

The Ghanaian Times agrees with the former Director of Public Relations and External Affairs of the PURC, Nana Yaa Jantuah,  that the proposals must be critically evaluated to see if the quality of service deserves the increment being sought and whether consumers would be able to pay.

After all, the high cost of goods and services also affects the people, which means increase in tariffs would worsen their plight, so they do not deserve to be irritated before they are burdened the more.

Consumers rather need to be appealed to, to accept to pay however difficult it may be to them,

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